This 68-year-old retiree lives on $ 620 a month in Mexico. Take a look inside his $ 160,000 home

In 1999, I spent a week’s vacation with a friend in Mazatlán, Mexico, and it was love at first sight. I was so enamored with the seaside town that I went to a real estate agent the next day and bought a tiny house for $ 28,000.

My plan was to make it a second home for when I wanted to get away from California. But in 2002, at age 49, I decided to follow my favorite mantra – “Leap, and the net will appear” – and left the United States to live in Mexico full time.

After a few years in Mazatlán, I was ready for a change. I examined several places, including Oaxaca and the Lake Chapala area, before turning to San Miguel de Allende, a colonial-era town in the highlands of central Mexico known for its Baroque architecture.

Photo: Irene Barajas for CNBC Make It

I was very lucky to have found a lovely place in my price range for $ 160,000. Since real estate in Mexico is a cash market – 90% of foreign buyers are cash buyers – I had to sell one of my rental properties in Mazatlán and take out a small loan from my brother to find the money.

It took three months to close the deal, and by 2006 I was completely settled.

Building the perfect house

My 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom San Miguel home has a first floor front yard. On the second floor is the living room, kitchen, dining room and a small terrace.

Photo: Clayton Conn for CNBC Make It

It is a wonderful house with more than enough space for one person. But as a retiree who does parallel painting, printmaking, and sculpture, I wanted to have a dedicated place to work on my art.

So in 2007, I began construction to add a third floor studio and rooftop, increasing the total space from 900 square feet to 1600 square feet.

Photo: Clayton Conn for CNBC Make It

I built two metal stairwells from my front door – one leading to the garden roof terrace and the other leading to my studio so that visitors who come to see my works do not have to enter through the bedroom.

Photo: Clayton Conn for CNBC Make It

I read a lot in the living room, where there is a small library and a cozy fireplace. The small dining area connects to the kitchen, which is decorated with beautiful Talavera-style ceramic tiles.

Photo: Clayton Conn for CNBC Make It

I am very happy with the result of the studio. There is a ton of natural light, a large wall to display my art, and enough space to hold workshops.

Photo: Clayton Conn for CNBC Make It

In total, the renovations cost approximately $ 32,000 and took less than a year. complete.

What I like about San Miguel

Unesco World Heritage Site since 2008, San Miguel is a charming city with old world charm.

There’s nothing like strolling through the cobbled streets and past the colorful colonial facades draped in bougainvillea. There are several small cafes, yoga studios, restaurants, and events for writers and artists.

Photo: Irene Barajas for CNBC Make It

One of my favorite things to do is visit art galleries. Every now and then I go to small venues to listen to live music for the cost of a meal or a $ 15 blanket change.

Photo: Irene Barajas for CNBC Make It

The only major downside is that the weather is much cooler here than in Mazatlán, which prompted me to purchase sweaters, jackets, and heaters that I had never needed before.

Although I walk everywhere most of the time, I have a car that is mainly used to transport my artwork or take day trips to nearby towns.

My income and expenses in Mexico

My income, which ranges from $ 1,100 to $ 2,500 per month, is a combination of Social Security, book and art sales, workshops, and rental property in Mazatlán.

Here’s a look at my average monthly spend:

  • Property tax: $ 41
  • Private health insurance: $ 250
  • Auto / gasoline insurance: $ 50
  • Utilities (water, electricity, telephone, internet): $ 70
  • Races: $ 110
  • Entertainment / dinner / shopping: $ 99

Total: $ 620 per month

Photo: Clayton Conn for CNBC Make It

I don’t know if this will be my home forever. Mazatlán still holds a special place in my heart, and it’s possible that I will back down at some point. But I fully intend to stay in San Miguel for the next five to ten years.

I could never have built this perfect life in America. The low cost of living in Mexico allows me to live my ideal retirement lifestyle and do what I love most: creating, teaching, and being surrounded by art.

Glen rogers is an artist living in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. She has traveled to many sacred sites in search of connection, understanding and inspiration; Newgrange in Ireland, Knossos in Crete, caves in southern France and Las Labradas in Mexico. Find it on Facebook.

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